“Sometimes a service call doesn’t mean rolling a truck—it means jumping on a plane,” said Ron Wanless, president and founder of Technology Design Associates, a Northwest home technology integration firm based in Bend, OR, with four locations in Oregon and Washington state.
Technology Design Associates serves customers across 10 Western states, as far south as Southern California and as far north as Alaska, so service calls aren’t always as simple as driving across town. To reach one customer in Delta Junction, AK, for instance, a technician would have to fly 1,678 miles and then drive an hour and a half to the client’s home.
But even reaching customers in the 48 contiguous United States can be a costly proposition. “We have clients with multiple homes in different regions, and we service all of them,” Wanless said, citing one customer with homes in Oregon, Washington, and Southern California as an example.
Before implementing the Ihiji Invision remote network monitoring and management solution, when that customer’s Apple TV in their Oregon home kept locking up, Technology Design Associates sent service personnel to reboot the unit at least once a week. “The Apple TV was situated in a rack and the customer wasn’t comfortable reaching into the rack to find the power outlet and reboot the box,” Wanless said, describing a common problem.
“Ihiji Invision makes it easy for the home technologist to reboot the TV remotely in seconds, so the homeowner never misses a minute of Dancing with the Stars,” Wanless said. “We were thankful we signed on with Ihiji before we installed the systems in that particular client’s Santa Barbara home. That home is 1,000 miles away from our office, and without Ihiji Invision, I’d have to find and pay a third-party company to go to their house and reboot the Apple TV for me.”
According to Technology Design Associates, Ihiji Invision saves the company thousands on labor hours and transportation costs, while helping it provide a higher level of customer service. It also helps the firm generate recurring monthly revenue through service contracts. Signing up for a minimum one-year service contract is mandatory; Wanless said he has not yet had a client discontinue the service contract after that first year. “We’ve had clients switch plans, but we haven’t had anybody tell us, ‘No.’ They see the value in it.”
On very rare occasions when a new customer declines the Ihiji Invision network appliance or remote monitoring service, Technology Design Associates requires them to sign a contract stating they chose to opt out and that they agree to be billed for any future service calls. Only a few customers in the past two years of the more than half who were presented the option opted out of a service contract. “After seeing what a year’s worth of service calls can cost, our customers are happy to be on a service plan,” Wanless said.
When it first rolled out its service program, Technology Design Associates offered three tiers of service, with the lowest plan being a “monitoring-only” agreement. Today, the company offers two tiers of service—regular and priority service. Monitoring-only service quickly turned into costly after-hours service for the home technology firm in order to keep customers happy. “Monitoring-only doesn’t make a lot of sense—for us or our customers,” Wanless said. With the expectation that when Technology Design Associates finds a problem, the company will also fix it, technology monitoring can quickly turn into either free labor or unhappy customers—a lose-lose situation—if it’s not backed by a monetized annual service contract to fix problems.
Today, with approximately 100 Ihiji Invision appliances active in the field, each with anywhere from five to 150 devices connected, Technology Design Associates resolves 85 to 90 percent of their customers’ problems remotely without rolling a truck. To effectively and efficiently handle network-related issues, Technology Design Associates has one employee dedicated to proactive service who keeps track of Ihiji Invision device notifications each day, identifying and resolving network-related problems remotely, typically before the client even realizes there’s an issue.